arrow-down newsletter parents award prospectus children online-payment key-info about-us news-and-events pause search play curriculum home calendar parentmail twitter
School Logo

Welcome to

Stalyhill Infant School

Inspiring young minds, creating learners for life


Developing language and vocabulary

The development of children's speech and vocabulary has never been more important than it is now following the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures and national lockdowns. 


Just as we know that learning to read is the key that unlocks all other aspects of learning for children, so do we know that improving communication, language and vocabulary is the key to becoming a competent and confident reader. 


At Stalyhill Infant School we place a clear focus on the development of children's language and communication. This begins in Reception where we run the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) and use Colourful Semantics to support all children to improve their spoken language.


Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) individual session

Individual NELI sessions provide a valuable opportunity to consolidate learning from the group sessions, focus on developing children's narrative skills and enable schools to adapt the level of the session to meet the needs of each child. These sessions usually last 15 minutes.



Throughout school, we ensure that we have a clear focus on the development of speech and vocabulary in all year groups. Here are some of the ways in which we support this area of the children's development.


We support language development by;


  • All staff modelling clear speech and explicitly teaching the 'back and forth' of a conversation when speaking to children
  • 'Thinking out loud' and modelling new language to children
  • Rephrasing and extending what children say
  • Asking open and closed questions
  • Answering the children’s questions
  • Explaining why things happen
  • Deliberately connecting current and past events (‘Do you remember when…?’)
  • Providing models of accurate grammar
  • Extending children’s vocabulary and explaining new words
  • Connecting one idea or action to another
  • Helping children to articulate ideas in well-formed sentences.
  • Introducing and focusing clearly on topic-specific words and new vocabulary and encouraging children to use them
  • Using Talk 4 Writing as our vehicle through which to scaffold all our teaching of writing
  • Ensuring we read to the children every day, often re-reading familiar stories to support the children's consolidation of language.




We also understand the importance of learning to become an effective listener in the development of children's language.


Ways in which we endeavour to support good listening include:

  • Giving the children clear verbal and visual signals to alert them to the fact it is time to listen.
  • Modelling good listening to children through our own behaviour:  ‘Wait a minute, I need to listen carefully.’  ‘Let’s be quiet so I can concentrate on what you’re saying.’
  • Reinforcing and praising good listening during class times and assemblies
  • Managing the use of talk partners effectively in class
  • Ensuring we have quiet spaces around school for the children to go and practise listening carefully
  • Setting challenges in lessons or assemblies that require the children to listen carefully


Examples of positive reinforcement of listening;


 ‘I could tell you were going to say something interesting: I could see you were listening carefully and concentrating.’

‘You must have listened carefully during assembly yesterday to have remembered that!’

‘Well done for telling everyone what your partner just shared with you – good listening.’

‘Well done for using that special word from the story yesterday. I am pleased you listened hard.’



Top tips for parents in supporting early language development